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V.A.O.
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V.A.O.

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Author: Geoff Ryman
Publisher: PS Publishing, 2002
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Book Type: Novella
Genre: Science-Fiction
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Synopsis

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Gus has his squeeze Mandy. Mandy used to be a lap dancer. She's still got a body, I can tell you. She's also got a mouth and the brains to use it. Her cover is that she used to be in property development. Well yeah maybe. A certain kind of old babe has the hardest eyes you'll ever see. Mandy says, "The trouble with that scum is they'll turn the heat up on all of us." The Happy Farm keeps its elderly guests protected with the latest security. VAO they call it, Victim Activated Ordnance. Sound guns or microwaves blast thieves and juveniles alike. The Happy Farm provides drugs and physiotherapy and advanced Neurobics to help heal its guests' bodies and minds. It also costs over $100,000 a year. So, some of the guests have turned to unorthodox ways of paying their bills. They hack it out of other people's bank accounts. Then a gang of aged street people starts taking more direct action. They turn the VAO onto the people it's supposed to protect: the young, the wealthy. Age Rage they call it. They even have a charismatic leader called Silhouette. The cosy criminals of the Happy Farm realise that Silhouette is drawing all together too much attention to the scourge of elderly crime. And the best way to do something about that is to catch Silhouette themselves.

This novella can also be found in the anthologies The Year's Best Science Fiction: Twentieth Annual Collection (2003), edited by Gardner Dozois, and Cities (2003), edited by Peter Crowther. It is included in the collection Paradise Tales (2011).


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